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Halftime Reaction: Indiana 24, Rutgers 7

Hello folks. I know it’s a busy day for Indiana athletics, but here are a few thoughts from Indiana’s meeting with New York’s Big Ten Team, Rutgers:

Takin’ Care of Business … Everyday!

That’s a fantastic song. I wasn’t sure how Indiana was going to handle this one, given a lousy opponent, in front of a few thousand folks, in New Jersey, at noon. There have been times, many times, where this program has played down to its competition. Doesn’t look like today will be that day, folks. That first drive by Indiana’s defense was concerning, given unwise penalties and quite frankly allowing Rutgers to score on its first possession. That should, uh, that should never happen.

It was important that Indiana came back with a drive of its own, and Stevie Scott powering into the endzone from 15 yards out. The former Rutgers commit has ran for 36 yards on eight carries.

I’d say that Indiana is likely pleased with a 24-7 halftime lead here in Piscataway. The margin allows the Hoosiers to try some things, such as Reese Taylor dropping back to pass, fleaflickers with Peyton Ramsey, or whatever Mike DeBord has up his sleeve. It also could bring on Michael Penix, who has played in two games this season. If Penix does not play today, the odds of him redshirting in 2018 are tremendously higher. Today is the ideal situation to play Penix and see what you have in him, but at the same time, another year of eligibility is useful. We’ll see.

This is a different game if Indiana doesn’t convert seven of its nine attempts on 3rd down. That’s obvious, yes, but the Hoosiers have been a very strong 3rd down team this season. It’s Rutgers, yes, but remember, it’s a must-win game for Indiana. The Hoosiers have executed in critical moments this week, finding J-Shun Harris, Nick Westbrook, and Ty Fryfogle four times each. I wouldn’t say that Indiana has necessarily stretched the field, but it also hasn’t had to. Rutgers is leaving IU’s wideouts open and Ramsey has handled the pressure rather well. He is 18-of-26, quintessential numbers for him, with 185 yards passing and 45 more on the ground. His career-high for total offense is 375 yards against Charleston Southern last season.

Other Nuggets

Man, I think Indiana found itself a solid player in true freshman defensive back Jamar Johnson. Allen said two weeks ago that Johnson can play all five positions in IU’s secondary, and he was a late add for the Hoosiers in this past recruiting class. Indiana kept a few players on the sidelines in this one, given the opponent and some nagging injuries. Johnson has played because A’Shon Riggins is out and Marcelino Ball was suspended for the first half for targeting. He mostly played special teams this year, but looked the part on a second quarter interception of Rutgers quarterback Art Sitkowski. If Rutgers scores there, it’s a 21-14 game instead of what became 24-7. The Scarlet Knights had been moving the ball well on that drive.

I am a senior from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, studying in IU’s School of Global and International Studies. Prior to joining The Hoosier Network, I spent two seasons covering IU Athletics for the Indianapolis Star alongside Zach Osterman after becoming the Sports Editor of the Indiana Daily Student as a freshman. While I found myself studying Italian in Florence this past summer, I interned with The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2017 — my hometown paper. In case you want to talk cheesesteaks or the Philadelphia 76ers, you can find me on Twitter, @ByTeddyBailey.

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